Friday, August 20, 2010

Student Engineers - NASA and NIA Want Your Ideas

/PRNewswire/ -- University engineering students could play a part in designing a future space project for NASA as part of a competition sponsored by NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA).

The 2011 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage or RASC-AL contest is aimed at undergraduate and graduate engineering students.

"We've been holding this competition for almost a decade now and we have seen some amazing ideas from the students," said Pat Troutman, senior systems engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. "The students say they get something out of it too. They like that they get a chance to apply classroom knowledge to actual aerospace challenges."

This year students can choose one of four themes for their project: designs for a cost-effective 2030 mission to a near-Earth object; approaches to reduce the risk of orbital debris from space junk; technology-enabled human Mars missions; and novel concepts to engage the general public in human exploration missions. Student teams submit a summary of and an outreach plan for their proposed projects by February 4, 2011.

The RASC-AL steering committee made up of NASA and industry experts will evaluate proposals and select as many as 10 undergraduate and five graduate teams to compete against each other at a forum next June in Florida.

"Each year, the RASC-AL competition engages some of the best engineering talent from across the nation," said Dr. Robert Lindberg, NIA president and executive director. "The student teams are challenged to think beyond the classroom and the textbook, and explore the very limits of human creativity using the engineering skills they've mastered in school."

Teams selected submit a written report, prepare a poster and give an oral presentation at the RASC-AL forum. The June event gives faculty and students the chance to meet with NASA and industry experts, introduce concepts and data from the competition into NASA exploration program planning, develop relationships that could lead to participation in other NASA student research programs and show the benefits of NASA-university-industry cooperation.

For more information about the 2011 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage competition, please go to: http://www.nianet.org/rascal

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